Wednesday, 24 May 2017


Wednesday 24th May 2017

As mentioned in our previous post, one of the members of our Facebook page - Alan Wheatley, a former neighbour of mine, from when I was a very young lad - made an interesting post about a strange experience he'd had, on a boating break, with his family, around 35 (approx.) years ago......  He tells us:  

"You may remember that I and my parents came across you on a canal boat in Shropshire..... well earlier that day we had left Market Drayton, heading back to Wolverhampton.  As anyone familiar with that stretch of canal will know, there is a long, very deep, narrow cutting about a mile long... dead straight, save for a slight dog-leg, half-way along, spanned by a high brick bridge.  As we approached the bridge, a small cruiser was coming the other way, so I slowed down to let him through, but was surprised when he stopped and pulled into the side out of my view behind the bridge.  As I passed through, I prepared to thank him, but was astonished to see that there was no boat there!  He couldn't possibly have turned round and, even if he could, I would have seen him in front of me!?  It wasn't me seeing things, because my mother saw it as well. To this day, I still can't come up with an explanation......?"

While we had no similar experiences logged (in our own files) from that particular stretch of water, we had mentioned, at the time that the subject was broached, that Alan's story reminded us very much of a couple of other encounters, from other regions, that had been reported to us, over time....  One instance concerned a vessel 'vanishing' in front of numerous occupants on a 'tour boat', on the Birmingham canals system, and - in a site that we have personally investigated - 'ghost boats' have allegedly been experienced in the Lord Wards tunnel network in Dudley, in the Black Country, too!  

While the canal networks of this fine country aren't immediately something you tend to think of when musing over the subjects of ghosts and hauntings, it certainly seems that the lifestyle / subject does indeed have a strong 'ghostlore' all of it's own!

As mentioned in our previous post, the stretch of canal mentioned by Alan in his account is, it seems, particularly noted for it's ghosts and peculiar feel.  (*Related articles HERE and HERE)  However, it's certainly not just this stretch of Midlands canal that hold such a reputation.... and related, 'spooky tales' continue across the waterways map!  We have, in the past, mentioned a number of strange stories associated with our canals; one particular 'stretch' - situated in my childhood / early adulthood neighbourhood - has no less that 5 different, allegedly haunted, spots within the space of two miles alone!!

Wednesday May 24th 2017

In a recent conversation on the W.M.G.C. Facebook page, we were greatly interested to see one of our members, Alan Wheatley, relating a story concerning a family outing on the Shropshire Union Canal some decades past.  The spot in question was a section of the waterway not far from Market Drayton in Shropshire... a stretch of canal that is seemingly noted (in numerous sources, it seems?) as having something of an 'eerie feel' to it!? 

While we will post Alan's initial story (mentioned above) in a separate post, we will, for the moment, focus on something mentioned in the subsequent 'comments' on the topic concerned.  Alan had happened to mention a specific matter that we'd never heard of before.... though the details concerned certainly brought to mind another topic that we were all-too-familiar with!  The comment included the most intriguing line:

"I know lots of the old working boatmen used to claim that Betton Wood had a shrieking ghost and would not moor there over night....."

On seeing this reference, we were instantly reminded of the classic story, 'A Neighbour's Landmark', by the late, great, ghost story writer, M.R. James.... in which the focus of the tale is a 'shrieking ghost' that haunts a region formerly occupied by an area of woodland called 'Betton Wood'! As mentioned, we had never heard of the real-life matter mentioned by Alan previously, but, on checking further, it seems that the association had certainly not been lost on Jamesian scholars, the information being reported on in a number of online sources.....!

A further reference, supplied by Alan, was taken from L.T.C Rolt's famous book, 'Narrow Boat':

"The name Betton Wood seemed vaguely familiar, but it was not until we reached Betton Wood, where the trees, pressing close, made a darkness about us and the water was unruffled by the wind which tossed their branches, that I recalled the association in the line: 'Than that which walks in Betton Wood knows why it walks or why it cries'. Connoisseurs of the ghost story will doubtless have read 'A Neighbours Landmark by the immortal M.R James, and so remember Betton Wood where walked the shrieking ghost having 'no language but a cry'"

As can (and most definitely 'does', of course) frequently occur, did the real-life haunting influence James' writing, perhaps.... or is the entire case just a matter of sheer coincidence!?!  Maybe - we cannot be sure now, needless to say - James' story actually influenced the 'lore of the canals', thereabouts, possibly?  This sort of thing has certainly happened before, to our knowledge: there is a real-life story, for example, of a haunting in the Wolverhampton area - from the mid-1800's - that ties in VERY closely indeed with another of James' tales.... so was he in the habit of taking references from the popular news for his stories, maybe?

Tuesday, 16 May 2017


Tuesday May 16th 2017

As always - especially with the subject matter concerned - we were very excited to receive yet another account of a potential sighting of the apparition known as 'Madam Piggott', from the Newport region of Shropshire, within the last couple of days.   As many of our more regular visitors to W.M.G.C. related pages - blog, former website / forum, etc - would know, this particular case has been a KEY passion of ours, since group member Steve Chew first drew our interest to the matter 12 or so years back.......

In this new 'encounter' - which only occurred early this month - a lone, male motorist was travelling along a country road, when a dark-dressed figure 'shot' across the, otherwise empty, thoroughfare some distance in front of his vehicle.....  As the gentleman concerned pointed out to us in his introductory note, the appearance of the figure doesn't exactly, immediately tie-in with the more traditional descriptions of the infamous 'madam'; the site of the occurrence is a little way removed from the usual region in which 'she' is reported, and the figure he saw was 'dark' in appearance, where M.P. is usually described as dressed in light / white period costume..... 

Having said the latter, however, having collected MANY stories from that general region, we've come to see that there really doesn't seem to be a 'typical', specific area / appearance / type for activity in the region concerned....!?  Many of the reported sightings do involve a female figure, but, even then, descriptions and locations almost never tally!?